Conversely, Mitt Romney’s paths might look something like this, and are probably somewhat more straightforward than Palin’s.
Romney Plan A. Win Iowa. Win New Hampshire. Game over.
Romney Plan B-1. (If Palin is knocked out) Lose Iowa. Win New Hampshire. Win Nevada. Sweep orange states on the basis of organizational strength. Veer slightly to the left, emphasizing electability and cleaning up in delegate-rich states like California and New York. You probably outlast a Southern opponent like Huckabee, perhaps even fairly easily. A Midwesterner that could win states like Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania might be more challenging.
Romney Plan B-2. (If Palin survives) Lose Iowa. Win New Hampshire. Win Nevada. Split orange states with Palin on the basis of organizational strength. Hope that gold or purple states came up next, in which case you should build up a substantial delegate lead. If so, the party infrastructure may start to close ranks around you. If green states come up instead, Palin is tougher and you’re in for a war of attrition with flagging momentum.
I’m headed to CPAC next week and will get to listen to Romney and a number of the other potential Republican candidates in 2012. I’ll also get a sense of base enthusiasm for 2010 and a number of other things.
If you have tips, questions, comments or suggestions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.